In Colorado, people under 18 who commit a crime are referred to as “Juveniles”, and the crime is referred to as a delinquency.  Juveniles usually fall into a separate system of courts and procedures designed especially for such crimes.  However, contrary to the belief of some, a juvenile delinquency record can affect a person even after he or she turns 18.  Therefore, it is critical that a juvenile who is charged with a delinquency understand his or her rights and know how to navigate the Juvenile Justice System.

When a juvenile is arrested, the first major step in the Juvenile Justice System is an initial hearing during which the prosecution must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that there is at least a reasonably good reason to believe that the juvenile committed the delinquency that is alleged.  At that point, the Court whether or not the juvenile should be released or remain in custody.  The Court may also appoint a public defender to represent the juvenile.

The Court has the option of releasing the juvenile on his or her own, releasing the juvenile into the custody of a parent or legal guardian, ordering the juvenile to go to a public facility, or denying bond and ordering that the juvenile remain in custody, which requires a demonstration that the juvenile is a danger to himself or others.

The Court will next hold an arraignment hearing at which the charges against the juvenile are read and the Judge asks how the juvenile wishes to proceed.  At that point, the juvenile can enter a plea of some sort, or may continue to fight the case.  The Court will not accept a guilty plea from a juvenile unless the Judge is satisfied that the juvenile understands the charges and his or her rights, and that the juvenile is making the decision to plea voluntarily.

If the juvenile decides to go to trial rather than accept a plea agreement, the case will generally be presented, with a few exceptions in serious cases, to a Judge rather than to a jury.  The Court will make a determination of the case, and will enter an adjudication, meaning that the Court will determine whether the juvenile is guilty, and will impose a sentence.  The sentence can include a period of “incarceration” in a Department of Human Services facility, which is not quite as bad as a jail or prison, but is certainly not an enjoyable experience.

A Juvenile criminal conviction can have serious consequences, and should be discussed thoroughly with an attorney.  Call us today at (719) 347-1199, or email us, to find out why Colorado Springs Juvenile Criminal Offense attorney Josh Deere at Deere Law, LLC has received an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest an attorney can receive for legal skill and ethics; a Superb, 10 out of 10 rating and a “Client’s Choice” award from Avvo, a national lawyer rating service; and a Colorado Springs’ TOP ATTORNEYS award by Colorado Springs Style Magazine.